Sustainable to the Last Fiber

FARMS Leadership | Tehama | Thursday, January 16, 2020

Location of Field Day:
Sierra Pacific Industries – 19794 Riverside Ave. Anderson, CA 96007

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Kristy Lanham, Community Relations Manager Katie Luther, Workforce Development and Communications Coordinator Drew Peterson, Electrical Supervisor Tanner Estes, Safety and Environmental Coordinator Angie Harris, Office Coordinator Fabrication Shop

Theme:
Technology and Manufacturing

Summary of the Day: Tehama County FARMS Leadership kicked off our year on January 16th at Sierra Pacific Industries in Anderson, CA. They have been a generous supporter of our FARMS programs throughout the state and this field day was no exception. While the weather was a bit grey and drizzly, we still took full advantage of our visit and were able to explore their sawmill, cogen plant, and fab/tech shop.

Kristy Lanham, SPI’s Community Relations Manager, and Katie Luther their Workforce Development and Communications Coordinator greeted us and gave some wonderful background information into Sierra Pacific Industries and what sets them apart from many other companies. They truly pride themselves on being a 3rd generation family run company that believes in growing their people, investing in their communities and being sustainable to the last fiber.

Largest crane west of the Mississippi loading logs onto the log deck.

Tanner Estes, Safety and Environmental Coordinator then joined us to be our guide as we headed out to see exactly how they are sustainable to the last fiber. We began by watching the largest crane west of the Mississippi River placing logs on the log deck. These logs have come from somewhere on the 2 million acres of forests Mr. Emmerson owns in CA and WA, making Sierra Pacific the 2nd largest lumber producer in the United States. As the logs enter the sawmill they are run through a de-barker and cut into lengths appropriate for the boards they will be but into. The students were absolutely fascinated by the technology, speed and size of the equipment being used. We met several of the employees that were inspecting the lumber for quality as well as operating some of the equipment along the way. Seeing the process from raw log to 2 X 4 that you could purchase at Home Depot was amazing! As we walked out of the sawmill Tanner talked to us about the waste they produce and how every single fiber is consumed wether it be shipped out as lumber, or used as fuel for their cogen plant. As we stood and watched the cogen steam we learned that they not only produce enough power to run their facility, but they feed energy back into the grid to provide power for much of the community. They also use the steam to dry their own lumber and any of the steam that is left over is looped around and continued in the cycle. Talk about efficient! Wow!

Lastly we headed over to the Fab/Tech Shop where Drew Peterson, Electrical Supervisor, toured us through this very high tech and state-of-the-art facility. We learned that Sierra Pacific designs and builds all of their equipment so they employ computer designers, electrical and mechanical engineers, fabricators, and many others that support this process. As we walked through the fab shop Drew showed how far the technology has come and that it is moving more and more into robotics. This is one of the highest tech operations in our area and truly offers wonderful opportunities for not only careers but also internships for those interested.

Our day wrapped up with a fabulous lunch provided by SPI and an opportunity for questions to be answered. The students were impressed by the company values as well as career opportunities they learned about. Many were surprised that they could begin a job right out of high school if they wanted and grow within the company into a very respectable career position. They also were intrigued with the scholarship opportunities that SPI offers to the children of their employees. Thank you Sierra Pacific Industries for all you pour into our program and the youth of today!

Aquaculture Education

FARMS Leadership | Central Valley North | Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Location of Field Day:
California Department of Fish & WildLife – San Joaquin Hatchery – 17372 Brook Trout Drive, Friant, CA 93626

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
William Branch
Cheryl Moxley
Brian Erlandsen

Theme:
Aquaculture and Natural Resources

Summary of the Day:
Students from LeGrand High School, Madera South High School and Firebaugh High School met on Wednesday, December 11th at The San Joaquin Hatchery of California Department of Fish & Wildlife. Students met and practiced an introduction and thank you practice for use in the day for introducing our hosts. Students also learned about the end of the year Community Action Project they would need to complete as a requirement of the FARMS Leadership Program. The Community Action Project is any project undertaken by students that applies the skills and knowledge attained throughout the program to address problems or concerns in the students’ own communities. Students will present what they have contributed to their communities during the last field day in April. Next, we were joined by Cheryl Moxley who runs the FINS Program. The FINS Program is an interpretive nature trail designed to teach children the life cycle of trout. Given the slightly older nature of our group, she covered other more age-appropriate information such as native plants, grant funding information, and interpretive design. Next, students rotated between two programs with lunch provided by FARMS to split up these two rotations. The first was SCARF: A salmon restoration project for the San Joaquin River. This covered topics such as conservation, endangered species, and the science behind genetic matrix and testing. Followed by SJH: The hatchery itself, where we discussed what it takes to raise fish, plant it out, and deal with such things as water quality, biosecurity, and fish health. At the end of the day, students presented thank you’s to all of our hosts. We had a really enjoyable hands-on day. We were very impressed with what the state of California does for our natural resources. Thank you again, William, Cherly, Brian and your entire team.

Farmer Training in the Salinas Valley

FARMS Leadership | Monterey and Santa Cruz | December 5th, 2019

Location(s) of Field Day:
ALBA Campus 1700 Old Stage Road, Salinas Ca

Participating Schools:
Soquel High School

Field Day Hosts and Mentors:
Nathan Harkleroad – Education Program Director
Nancy Porto – Community Relations and Environmental Education Officer

Summary of the Day: 
At today’s field day students had to make their way through roadblocks and detours to get to the ALBA Campus. Last night’s storm caused a levy to break and flooded several South Monterey County Cities including Gonzales. By morning Gonzales HS had to close for the day and Gonzales HS students in the FARMS program could not make it to the field day.

Luckily, Soquel High School students made it safely to the field day site ready to learn about Organic Farmer Training. ALBA stands for Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association. Students spent the morning learning about the farmer education course that provides hands-on training and college-accredited coursework to the next generation of organic farmers. The course allows aspiring farmers to learn about organic farming production, pest management, marketing, record keeping, labor laws and much more. 

Nathan Harkleroad the education program director taught students about organic pest management and careers in pest management like crop planning and research. He shared research from the USDA on an experiment using alyssum as a conservation bio-control. Alyssum can be very beneficial for organic farmers because it attracts hoverflies that help control aphids. Students had the opportunity to plant a hundred alyssum plants in the fields. 

Finally, the day ended with a farm tour and included meaningful discussions about: 

  • Sustainability practices like straw bale buildings, solar panels to power buildings and well pumps.
  • Water wells and the limited water resources in the area as well as some water regulations affecting farmers today. 
  • Hedgerows, cover crops, windbreaks, and how beneficial these are for the soil and land conservation.
  • The visible differences from how ALBA manages their land and how the neighboring conventional farmers manage their land.

Dam Good Water

FARMS Leadership | Central Valley Central | Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Location of Field Day:
Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District – 2975 Farmersville Rd, Farmersville, CA 93223

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Shane Smith – Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, Project-Administrative Manager

Theme:
California’s Water & Natural Resources

Summary of the Day:
On Wednesday, September 13, 2019, the Central Valley Central FARMS Leadership students from Patino High School, Sunnyside High School, Kerman High School and Reedley High School met at the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District. Students participated in a few Leadership activities in interviewing and introducing each other in practice and preparation of introducing our field day hosts. Shane Smith, Project-Administrative Manager with the KDWCD met with the students at the home office and shared a short powerpoint presentation with the students on why the dam was built. Mr. Smith also presented the Kaweah Delta Water Operations, What the district does, Groundwater Recharge, Stormwater Layoff and storage facilities. The group caravaned to the US Army Corps of Engineer office at the Dam. While here Mr. Smith also explained the importance of irrigation and Fuse Gates known as Tipping Buckets and Flood Control Activities. Students were able to walk down and see the 6 – 1 million pound tipping buckets up close. After lunch students spent time asking final questions about the day. We all enjoyed our visit to the Dam!

What can the Soil Tell us About the Land?

FARMS Leadership | Monterey & Santa Cruz | November 7th, 2019

Location(s) of Field Day:
D’Arrigo Ranch – 18742 Gould Rd. Salinas, Ca
Hartnell College Alisal Campus – 1752 E Alisal St. Salinas, Ca

Participating Schools:
Gonzales High School
Soquel High School

Field Day Hosts and Mentors:
Resource Conservation District for Monterey County(RCDMC)
Paul Robins – Executive Director 
Megan Baker – Project Administrator 
Laura Murphy – Soil Scientist
Chelsea Rutt – Student Trainee (Soil Conservation)
Shaun Richards – Ag Water Management Specialist

National Resource Conservation District(NRCS)
Drew Mather – Conservation Planner 
Allison Tokunaga – Rangeland Conservationist

D’Arrigo Brothers
Ed Mora – PCA
Saul Lopez Jr. – D’Arrigo Superintendent / PCA 

Summary of the Day:

When it comes to soil conservation the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County (RCDMC) are the experts. Students had the opportunity to spend the day with these local experts and learn more about soil science, land judging and possible careers in Ag and Conservation.

Students arrived at the D’Arrigo Ranch promptly to a warm breakfast. After breakfast, we headed out to a freshly harvested field to meet our field day mentors. Paul Robins started with an overview and history of the NRCS and the RCD, and how they support local farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners wanting to make conservation improvements to their land. One of the local ag companies that work with the RCDMC is D’Arrigo Brothers and we were lucky enough to have Saul Lopez Jr. and Ed Mora from D’Arrigo on-site to greet students.

It was time to learn how to judge the land for the land judging competition. There was a lot to cover and Laura Murphy, Shaun Richards, and Drew Mather gave students a crash course on soil properties and proper ways of observing and analyzing soil and topography. With that, students were ready to try it on their own.

“It’s kinda cool, right? From where we started with color and texture we’re sort of predicting out. Just from texture you can tell so much about what you can do with your soil, from available water to instability for building or for growing plant life.” – Drew Mather, NRCS

In order to make the land judging contest more competitive, the RCD has agreed to provide the first place winner with a scholarship to California Range and Natural Resources Camp at Elkus Ranch in Half-Moon Bay. Students will spend 10 minutes in the pit and 10 minutes outside the pit at 2 different locations. Each student and team will get an opportunity to make observations and record their findings on a scorecard that would later be graded. Judges will combine the two scores to determine the winner. Students do their best and turn in their scorecards.

We head to Hartnell College for lunch and some team building activities while the scorecards are graded. Before the winners are announced students split up into groups of two to meet the experts and practice their networking skills. Professionals share information about their careers and what they do and why they like it while asking students to share more about their own interests and future plans for themselves.

Finally, it is announced that the top two scorers for the land judging competition go to Kayli Plazola and Sophia Lopez from Gonzales High School.

A big thank you to Megan Barker from the RCDMC for working with FARMS to plan this field day.

Chico State – “The Harvard of the West!”

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: November 5, 2019

Location of Field Day: Chico, CA


Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Sarah DeForest – Director of External Relations
Hayden Clement – CSU, Chico Meats Lab Manager
Gracie Pachie – CSU, Chico Tour Coordinator and Guide

Theme: College Exploration and Career Opportunities

Summary of the Day:

We began our visit to Chico State with an introduction to the campus, student housing, different courses available at Chico State, as well as studying abroad.  After we concluded our presentation Gracie Pachie, the Tours Coordinator and Guide showed us around campus. We toured the campus and saw classrooms, visited the Bell Union Memorial (BMU) saw student housing and the dining halls and concluded our tour at the campus gym which just celebrated its 10th year. Once our tour ended we headed in to the BMU dining hall where the students all got to enjoy a college style dining experience. We also checked out the campus store and students and their teachers were able to buy some shirts, hats and other cool Chico State gear.

Following lunch, we all went back to our vehicles and drove out to the University Farm. We were greeted by Sarah DeForest, who took us on a tour of the farm and told us about it’s history and how it got to where it is today. We visited the beef unit, dairy facility, swine unit, sheep unit, and meats lab. We were also able to check out the orchards where they grow pecans, almonds, walnuts and peaches. As well as 400 acres of row crops that the student employees are able to work in as well. The CSU, Chico Farm employees 45 students in part time positions as well as numerous interns each semester. The FARMS Leadership students all had different interests so they were all able to explore the different units. After our farm tour we headed into the meats lab where Hayden Clement, the Manager, gave us a tour.  The meats lab processes cattle, hogs, and sheep from the farm as well as animals from local fairs and ranches. It is a USDA inspected facility and sells meat to customers Thursdays and Fridays every week.

A Little Dirt Never Hurt!

Boggs Tract Community FARM

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: October 29, 2019

Location of Field Day: Stockton, CA


Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Kenda Templeton – Puentes Executive Director
Clifton Maxwell – Puentes Farm Manager and Nursery Specialist
Jessica Bryant – Puentes Urban Forestry Coordinator, Owner and Farmer of Corn Poppy Produce

Theme: Urban Agriculture


Summary of the Day:

For our first field day of the 2019-2020 school year, the San Joaquin FARMS Leadership Program visited Boggs Tract Community Farm in Stockton, CA. Boggs Tract Community Farm is managed by the Puentes organization and their goal at Boggs Tract is to connect the community with the land and help provide them with a space to grow farm fresh produce. We began our day with a tour of the farm by Clifton Maxwell, the Farm Manager. Clifton showed the students the different garden plots that can be rented by the community, the outdoor education area, the chicken coop, compost site, bee hives, and tree nursery. Following our tour Clifton lead the students in different farming activities where the students were able to get their hands dirty and plant seeds, spread mulch and create a new garden bed. The students worked for about an hour and then we took a break for lunch.


Following lunch, the students were introduced to Jessica Bryant. Jessica not only works at Boggs Tract but is also an incubator farmer and leases the land across the street which is where she has her farm Corn Poppy Produce. Jessica provides farm fresh produce to the Stockton community and sells at farmer’s markets, her farm stand, and has also done work with the local culinary program. The FARMS Leadership students helped weed her garden beds, prep beds for new crops, and plant winter crop seeds. This is where we concluded our day in Stockton learning about urban agriculture and getting a lot of hands on experience at Boggs Tract Community Farm.

Kick off to the 2019-2020 Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership Program!

Sierra Orchards and Mariani Nut Company

FARMS Leadership Program: Sacramento Valley: October 24th, 2019

Location of Field Day: Winters, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Craig McNamara – Owner and Manager, Sierra Orchards
Gus Mariani – Operations Manager, Mariani Nut Company Max Mariani – Production Manager, Mariani Nut Company

Theme: Walnut Production and Sustainability

Summary of the Day:

The Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership Program kicked off the 2019-2020 program year at Sierra Orchards in Winters, CA. Sierra Orchards is home to Craig McNamara who founded the FARMS Leadership Program in 1993. The field day began with an introduction to the Program and the Farm followed by activities to introduce the students from different schools to one another. The Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership Program is made up of students from 5 high schools in the Sacramento and Yolo counties; Luther Burbank, Grant Union, Sacramento, River City, and Esparto High Schools.

After the activities concluded the group headed on down the road to Mariani Nut Company. We were greeted by Gus and his nephew Max Mariani who work at and manage the facility. They gave us an overview of the family owned company and then took us on a tour. We were able to see the different stages of production from when the walnuts were dropped off in shell to how they are sorted and processed. They sell walnuts and almonds all over the world in different forms including in shell, sliced, whole, flavored, etc. You name it and they probably have a market for it. The students were then able to work on the factory line and help the quality control team sort walnuts.

Following our tour of Mariani Nut Company we headed back over to Sierra Orchards where we were met by Craig McNamara. Craig gave an overview of Sierra Orchards and then took the Sac Valley FARMS group on a tractor ride tour of the property. We went out into the orchard and were able to see the crew harvesting as well as visit the huller and see walnut shipments come in and be sorted and dried.

Cotton!! The fabric of our life.

FARMS Leadership | Central Valley South | Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Location of Field Day:
Farm Credit West – 200 E Cartmill Avenue, Tulare, CA 93274
Cardoza Company – 8410 Avenue 184, Tulare, CA 93274
Mid Valley Cotton Gin – 626 W Cartmill Ave, Tulare, CA 93274
USDA Cotton Classing Office – 7100 West Sunnyview Avenue, Visalia, CA 93291

Strategic Partner:
California Cotton Association – 1521 I St. Sacramento CA 95814

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: 
Jonathan Kennedy & Ryan Camara – Farm Credit West
David Cardoza – Cardoza Company
Wade Van Hooser – Mid Valley Cotton Gin
Greg Townsend – Cotton Classing Office

Theme: 
Leadership, Cotton Harvesting, Cotton Packing & Cotton Classing

Summary of the Day:
On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, the Central Valley South FARMS Leadership Program students enjoyed a fun-filled,  field day learning about the Cotton Industry. The students who consist of Ms. Callias’ class from Hanford West High School started off at 9am meeting at Farm Credit West in Tulare. We were welcomed by Ryan Camara, Vice President, Credit Lending.  Here students covered a few leadership activities such as practicing how to properly introduce a host and thanking them for their time and sharing their knowledge with our students. Next, the group caravanned to our next stop, located south-west of Tulare where Cardoza Company was harvesting a cotton field.  Here a student from Hanford High School introduced Mr. David Cardoza, President of Cardoza Company. Mr. Cardoza talked with the group about the growing, maintenance and harvesting of cotton. Next, the group headed to Mid-Valley Cotton Growers, Inc., in Tulare, where we were welcomed by Wade Van Hooser. Wade showed us the entire process from unloading the truck to accepting the cotton.  It takes approximately 2 minutes of travel time to where the seed is removed and the cotton is put into bales ready to be shipped overseas where it is typically made into clothing.
One student said they learned how cotton farming is a sustainable practice, “I learned about how everything is recycled and reused, so nothing goes to waste”. Another student learned, “the fiber on the cotton seeds helps the cows digestion.” This fact refers to the nutrition component that we cover in the program. 
Finally, we traveled to the USDA Classing Office in Visalia, CA where we enjoyed a quick lunch provided by FARMS. Finally, we spoke to Greg Townsend, the Area Director of the USDA Classing Office. The students learned the process of how the machines now classify and grade cotton. We learned that this process used to be done completely by people and the last part of grading still is. We definitely enjoyed our day and thanks to all of our partners for the day; Farm Credit West, Cardoza Company, Mid-Valley Cotton Growers Association Inc., and the USDA Classing Office in Visalia, CA.

There’s a Fungus Among Us!

Premier Mushrooms and Colusa Industrial Properties
FARMS Leadership | North State | October 22, 2019

Location of Field Day:
Premier Mushrooms and Colusa Industrial Properties
Colusa, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
John Ashbaugh – Premier Mushrooms, CEO
Misty Castellanos – Premier Mushrooms, Growing Analyst
Ed Hulbert – Colusa Industrial Properties, CEO

Theme: Sustainability

Summary of the Day:
We kicked off the 2019-2020 North State FARMS Leadership Program with a field day at Premier Mushrooms in Colusa, CA. Premier Mushrooms employees the largest number of people within Colusa Industrial Properties (CIP) at around 230 employees. They are also operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To start off the day the the students did ice breaker activities to get to know the different students from the schools participating this year. The North State FARMS Leadership Program is made up of 6 different high schools including Marysville, Maxwell, Yuba City, River Valley, Core Charter, and Pierce.  At the end of our final ice breaker we headed over to the property where Premier Mushrooms has their growing operations.

John Ashbaugh the CEO of Premier Mushrooms gave us an introduction to the company. He then introduced us to our tour guide for the day, Misty Castellanos. During our tour Misty took us into the grow houses where we were able to see mushrooms at all different stages of production. Since mushrooms are a fungus Premier Mushrooms plants millet seed inoculated with the mushroom strain to grow their mushroom varieties. It takes approximately 50 days from planting the seeds until the mushrooms are ready to harvest. Harvest of the mushrooms last 3 to 5 days and each room will grow 2 or 3 crops that can be harvested before they have to clean the room and prep it for another cycle.

After our tour we headed over to Colusa industrial Properties where they hosted us for lunch. We wrapped up our field day learning about the property and the many different businesses that it houses. Thank you Colusa Industrial Properties and Premier Mushrooms for a great start to the year!